ESTNN Overwatch Contributor Cole Ricke breaks down each playoff game for the Overwatch Stage 2 Playoffs.
The Overwatch League's Season 2 Stage 2 is coming to a close, and that means the best part is just around the corner -- playoffs! With a few teams seeing their first playoff appearance going head to head against veteran postseason squads, playoffs this stage are bound to be one of the best Overwatch League has seen had so far. Before the first set of matches begin on May 9, 6 PM PDT, let’s take a look and see what teams are likely to make it out of their first matches unscathed.
#8. Shanghai Dragons (4-3) vs. #1. San Francisco Shock (7-0)
The Shanghai Dragons have managed to squeak into playoffs and have looked decent doing so. This stage, the Dragons played a mix of top-tier and low-tier teams, but not very many middle-tier squads. Their last match was against the Shock and ended in a 0-4 loss. This win gave the Shock the first-ever stage where a team did not lose a single map, also known as a “Golden Stage”. However, the Dragons also gave the Shock the hardest game of Stage 2.
Many are quick to point out that the Shock had an extremely easy stage due to their scheduling, playing teams like the Los Angeles Valiant, Toronto Defiant, and even the Guangzhou Charge twice. However, even with a fairly weak schedule, we have to give credit to San Francisco. The Shock showed they were able to play extremely well no matter the composition or the map, even sporting a 41% win rate after having the first death in a fight. This incredible number was attributed in part to Dong-jun "Rascal" Kim and his ability to do well even when things are not going to plan.
When asked about the Dragons game and how he thinks the rematch will go, Shock main tank Matthew “super” DeLisi said the Dragons were tough, but mainly in part due to being “Sombra abusers” in this clip.
“Was it a close match? Yeah, it was a close match. Did Shanghai abuse Sombra to no end? Yeah, they did!”
Super mentioned his team was going to work on countering Sombra, and if they were able to 4-0 without playing at optimal levels, we expect them to win again once they clean up their play.
Prediction: 3-0 San Francisco Shock
#7. Hangzhou Spark (5-2) vs. #3. London Spitfire (6-1)
The Hangzhou Spark battled their way into playoffs, winning three games that went to five maps and never claiming a clean sweep. Every loss they suffered, however, were a reverse sweeps against the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans. The London Spitfire had a very similar schedule to the Spark, as they played three of the same teams as the Spark this stage. That said, London easily 4-0’d two of the teams that the Spark took five maps to beat.
The Spitfire did stumble against the Hunters, but without that loss, the Spitfire’s record is a clean 12-0. The Spark will not let themselves get swept, and they definitely will not go without a fight. However, the Spitfire will most likely take the victory, but it will be an all-out battle and an exciting one at that.
Prediction: 3-1 London Spitfire
#5. New York Excelsior (5-2) vs. #4. Los Angeles Gladiators (6-1)
Fans and analysts should call this game "The Battle of Who Can Be More Consistent." Both teams started off extremely strong at the beginning of the stage, winning the first five games of their respective schedules. However, the New York Excelsior finished their stage in embarrassment.
The Excelsior lost back to back games against the Atlanta Reign, and it looked the Excelsior just were not playing at their best. Their use of the 3-3 composition looked inferior, the ultimate management was in tatters, and overall many small mistakes resulted in defeat - twice. The Gladiators, however, are in a similar boat.
The Los Angeles representatives were only able to 4-0 one opponent, the Guangzhou Charge. That's not really an achievement given how the Charge played this stage. The Gladiators lost maps to teams like the Los Angeles Valiant, the Chengdu Hunters, and even the Florida Mayhem. The boys in purple are not able to clean sweep, but that shouldn't matter too much in a playoff setting.
Instead, the team should focus on something their coach emphasized every game, believing each and every map is the beginning. Going into each map with the “It’s 0-0 right now” mindset allows players to forget their mistakes and be ready for the next map, and if they can focus on that and tighten their play, they may be able to squeak out the victory. The game could go either way, but a prediction must be made!
Prediction: 3-2 Los Angeles Gladiators
#6. Dallas Fuel (5-2) vs. #2. Vancouver Titans (7-0)
The Dallas Fuel barely missed the cutoff for playoffs last stage, but made sure they did not miss it again in Stage 2. The Texas team did not have a standout season by any means, but they were able to clutch out the toss-up games that mattered, like standoffs against the Paris Eternal and Toronto Defiant. The Fuel has played against the Vancouver Titans before, and the Canadian team was not kind to them. The Titans doled out a quick 0-4 to the Fuel in their last matchup.
Vancouver did not see the Fuel as any different from the three other teams they 4-0’d or any other team that has crossed their path, and Vancouver still boasts an undefeated record even in the postseason. The Titans have dominated since they arrived, and there is no reason to believe anything different will happen anytime soon.
The Canadian representatives are favorites to win the entire stage again and already many are predicting them to be the Season 2 champions, and it is highly unlikely that the Fuel will be the ones to stop that momentum.
Prediction: 3-0 Vancouver Titans
The Stage 2 Playoffs will be some of the most exciting Overwatch the season has to offer. With so many teams that could beat each other on any given day, the possibilities are endless and you can be sure that we will be watching and cheering on our favorite teams throughout the four days. Will you?
Images VIA: Blizzard Entertainment